The Monster Hunter franchise is very well received in Japan, sharing its huge popularity with Pokemon but targeting a much older crowd. Monster Hunter made its debut on the PlayStation 2 console. A sequel was released on the same system which, unfortunately, is exclusive to Japan unless you decide to import. Capcom released several Monster Hunter spin-offs for the Sony PSP with little advertising of the games outside of Japan, despite how unique they were compared to other games on the portable system.

Capcom’s surprising decision to make Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii instead of the PS3 has left many Sony fans disappointed because of the graphical potential it could have had using the PS3’s far more, superior technology. However you can really tell that Capcom put a lot of work into the game’s development, because it really shows from the game’s gorgeous presentation. It is by far the best-looking game on the Wii yet.

The design and re-rendering of returning monsters in this game is fantastic. Each monster has its own distinct animations setting apart the monsters from each other. You never feel like you’re fighting the same monster over and over again, and you’ll always want to have a different strategy of taking them down. Learning each monster’s behavior is essential to taking down a monster quickly and efficiently.

Your hunts are never less than epic in this game, because the music is amazing and the sound of each monster makes your experience fighting them almost believable if you have the volume at a reasonable level. Sometimes a monster is so loud your player has to stop whatever he or she is doing and cover their ears because the monster is so damn loud. Careful you don’t want the volume on your television too high or it’ll make you soil your pants.

While the focus is on the monsters you’re hunting, you can’t help but be amazed at the gorgeous environments like the deserted island, to a swampy forest, to snowy tundra, and a scorching hot volcano. These environments aren’t made to just look good. Depending on where you are you can either be drained slowly of health from the desert’s burning sun or freeze yourself to death in the negative 0 degrees unless you carry with you the appropriate supplies. You’re definitely are going to want to bring more than your sword & shield if you want to fight gigantic beasties.

In Monster Hunter Tri hack ‘n’ slashing isn’t the only thing you need to do if you want to make the most out of your experience playing. No, this game has a steep learning curve to master from learning the pros and cons of each weapon, understanding the benefits of various armor sets, knowing which items to bring and not to bring on your quest, remembering different combinations of items to create potions or tools, pinpointing a monster’s weaknesses, to the behavior of each monster and deciding when to attack when it is most vulnerable.

The game offers deep customization options for your character from little things like choosing their face, voice, skin tone, and hair style, to changing different armor sets, mix-mashing the loadout of your bowgun (if you’re playing as a gunner class) to upgrading your weapons and armor. Almost like an MMORPG, but not really. If you’re a collector or completion-ist, there’s so much to do in this game. I mean it. There’s A LOT.

The real fun only starts when you play online with three other players to hunt cooperatively. You don’t have worry about inputting each other’s friend codes if you want to communicate with others because you are given a six character ID. All of the necessary online features to communicate in this game are all done in-game such as using the Friend Roster to check the status of your fellow hunter friends, to checking your personal mailbox to receive or send mail to other players using the game’s virtual keyboard or using a physical USB keyboard, or the option to communicate vocally via Wii Speak or USB Headset. Thanks to the wonderful people at Capcom all of this is possible on the Wii because everything is handled on their servers!

Online the game runs smoothly and rarely will you ever experience any lag. However the only complaint you’ll see me give is that the smaller monsters are often out-of-sync with the monsters that you’re fellow hunters are fighting. The main focus of your hunt is taking down that huge son-of-gun! However this isn’t a big deal, because when you’re fighting the big beasties there never seems to be any problem when your party of hunters is fighting the big guys (and girl.) See, I didn’t forget about the Rathian.

The game is awesome and a great introduction to the franchise for newcomers. This is also a must-buy for any dedicated fan of games if they haven’t already purchased their copy of Monster Hunter Tri. I do recommend that you purchase the game bundled with the new Classic Controller Pro by Nintendo. The feel of using two analog sticks to control movement and the camera angle just feels a lot more natural than using the Wii Remote and Nun-chuck. If you’re looking for a game that is easy to pick up, then you probably will want to pass on this game, because this game is hardcore, but you should definitely give this game a chance. You’ll never what kind of gamer you have in you.

I give this game a 9 out of 10.

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